FOXBORO -- Maybe Julian Edelman was still coming to grips with the situation the Patriots offense found itself in following their 31-24 win over the Dolphins. Maybe he had just remembered a lighthearted moment from within the huddle that transpired at some point in the afternoon. Maybe it was a simple expression of disbelief.
Whatever it was, when Julian Edelman stood in front of his locker at Gillette Stadium and thought back to how Jacoby Brissett handled himself as a fill-in for injured starter Jimmy Garoppolo, he chuckled.
"He came in and he handled it well," Edelman said. "He's a baby, and it's just funny to see him in the huddle and stuff. I'm proud of him. He handled it real well. He made calls. He made the right run checks and all that stuff. I'm sure there's more we could do better, but he came in, and Jacoby handled it like a professional."
When Garoppolo landed hard on his throwing shoulder and was forced to leave the game in the second quarter, the Patriots at least had the luxury of a 21-0 lead . That allowed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to get somewhat conservative with his play-calling for the remainder of the afternoon. Brissett threw just nine total passes, completing six for 92 yards, and the team leaned heavily on "big back" LeGarrette Blount, who carried 29 times for 123 yards and a touchdown.
"Obviously, it was a tough situation, but I think Jacoby handled the moment well," said Patriots receiver and special teams ace Matthew Slater. " I think he's done a great job of preparing himself, and he got in there, he was able to make some plays with his legs, he was able to move the chains . . .
"I think Jacoby has a great deal of maturity for a young player. Maybe it's the position, those guys tend to be a little bit more on top of things when they first get in the building, but I think he's done a great job of learning. Coach [Bill] Belichick has said from the start, we understood the situation with Tom [Brady], and he said Jimmy and Jacoby both have to be ready. Obviously, we didn't foresee it happening like that, but he was ready to go when his number was called, and as I said earlier, I don't think the moment was too big for him. I think that's a tribute to the way that he's prepared himself from the time he stepped in this building. He's spent a lot of time with our coaches, and they've done a good job getting him ready."
Brissett did more handing off than playmaking, but when he did have the football in his hands, the third-round pick out of NC State showed poise both as a passer and a runner. His first completion as a professional went to Bennett, who was so wide open it may have given Brissett an extra beat to think about the placement of the pass. He also carried three times for 13 yards, picked up first downs on two of those runs, and in both instances, he showed good awareness by sliding before defenders could get to him.
"I mean, Jacoby Brissett did a really admirable job filling in," said defensive end Chris Long. "That's tough on a young kid like that. But he just had a mentality and a mindset, and he's had a mentality and a mindset preparing that he's ready to play. We were confident in him."
Brissett is the kind of quarterback, even as a rookie, who has no problem making his way into the locker room after a practice and jawing back and forth with defensive backs who he battled against as a member of the scout team. His competitiveness has already made an impression on those around him so how he handled Sunday's emergency workload came as little surprise.
"Obviously he has great ability to run and throw, but it's his attitude," said safety Devin McCourty. "When he's out there on the look team he's trying to make plays. He's trying to have a good day out there. He's not out there as a look-squad quarterback. Same thing similar to when Jimmy was out there. They're out there trying to make plays, trying to get better as players and it gets us all better."
When Brissett practices this week, he'll likely be promoted from the "look squad" to the first team, and he'll have just three days to prepare for Thursday's game with the Texans. How he handles the preparation remains to be seen, but it sounds as though the Patriots will be happy with him if he simply continues to do what he's done.
"Just preparing since I got here, when I got drafted," Brissett said. "Just taking one day at a time."